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The iconic Manicouagan meteor crater in Quebec.

The iconic Manicouagan meteor crater in Quebec is pictured in this handout photo taken March 14, 2013. The crater is one of the oldest known impact craters on Earth, still visible from space.

Handout Photograph by Chris Hadfield/CSA/Reuters

Robert Kunzig

National Geographic

Published September 10, 2013

Why did mammoths, mastodons, and other mega-beasts vanish from North America?

Was it because:

1) humans killed them;

2) they couldn't hack the climate after the Ice Age ended; or

3) an exploding comet ignited continent-wide wildfires, sent hundred-mile-an-hour winds and tornadoes howling across the land, and shattered the North American ice sheet, while also maybe gouging out the Great Lakes?

Let's talk about option number three.

The idea that a comet struck Earth 12,900 years ago, at the beginning of a strange interlude of climate cooling called the Younger Dryas was first proposed in 2007. In the bitter scientific debate that has flared sporadically ever since, the latest evidence includes:

  • Tiny, glassy "spherules" of rock found in a Pennsylvania flowerbed by a woman who had seen a NOVA program about the comet hypothesis. In a paper that got wide coverage last week, Dartmouth researchers argue that those spherules were hurled to Pennsylvania by an impact in Quebec 12,900 years ago.

  • Traces of platinum deposited on the Greenland ice cap at about the same time. Harvard researchers argue that the platinum probably came from an extraterrestrial object—not a comet, however, but a rare type of iron-rich meteorite.

  • Spherules in Syria. In their latest paper, some of the original proponents of the impact hypothesis now say it deposited 10 million metric tons of spherules over an area of 20 million square miles, stretching from Syria through Europe to the west coast of North America.

Some opponents of the hypothesis—and there are many—want so badly for it to go away that they have attempted to declare it dead. "My only comment is that the pro-impact literature is, at this point, fringe science being promoted by a single journal," one of them, Nicholas Pinter of Southern Illinois University, said last week. The journal in question is Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

Other researchers are trying to keep an open mind.

"Most people were trying to disprove this," said Wallace Broecker, a geochemist and climate scientist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. "Now they're going to have to realize there's some truth to it"—though maybe only a spherule or two.

Why Care About the Younger Dryas?

Even if you're inclined to let sleeping mammoths lie, this debate matters: It bears on the question of just how fragile Earth's climate is. Does it need an extraterrestrial whack to go haywire, or can it do that on its own?

The alleged mammoth-killing impact is also alleged to have triggered the Younger Dryas. At the time, 12,900 years ago, the continental ice sheets were in full retreat from the last Ice Age, and the planet was nearly as warm as it is now.

Suddenly, in a matter of decades, glacial temperatures returned, and the ice advanced again. The cold lasted 1,500 years, then ended even more suddenly than it had begun.

In the 1980s Broecker helped bring the Younger Dryas to wide attention. He explained the sudden cold snap with a mechanism that's internal to the climate system.

At the start of the Younger Dryas, he said, a conveyor belt of ocean currents that normally transports heat into the North Atlantic—the Gulf Stream is part of it—had gotten jammed by fresh meltwater flowing off the receding ice sheet. With no heat flowing north in the ocean, the North Atlantic region relapsed into bitter cold.

The Younger Dryas became the paradigm for the idea that Earth's climate was an intrinsically flighty creature, capable of shifting abruptly to a radically different state. That idea has made the prospect of future climate change even more worrisome.

Conceivably a comet might have triggered the Younger Dryas by helping to break up the ice sheet and send meltwater into the North Atlantic. It would have had to have been a big comet, with about a million times the energy of the bolide that excavated Meteor Crater in Arizona, which is three-quarters of a mile wide

Though proponents of a Younger Dryas impact say the comet may have exploded in air, leading to multiple impacts, no crater has yet been found.

Searching for Meteorite Metals

Mukul Sharma of Dartmouth and his colleagues now suggest at least one impact happened somewhere in Quebec. They base that conclusion on a very intricate analysis of some dirt from Yvonne Malinowski's backyard in Melrose, Pennsylvania.

A proponent of the impact hypothesis, a geological consultant named Allen West, sent Sharma sediment samples from half a dozen sites that he thought recorded evidence of a Younger Dryas impact, including Melrose. Sharma's graduate student, Yingzhe Wu, analyzed the sediment for osmium, a metal that is rare in Earth's crust but much more abundant in meteorites.

Like iridium, another member of the platinum group, osmium is considered a reliable signature of an extraterrestrial impact. The asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, at the end of the Cretaceous Period, was ultimately traced to a large crater off the Yucatán Peninsula. But it was discovered first from an iridium-rich fallout layer that's clearly detectable all over the world.

Secrets of the Spherules

Sharma had no such luck with his Younger Dryas samples.

"In the sediment, there was no meteorite-derived osmium to be found, anywhere," he said. "That was remarkable." He and Wu didn't give up, however: Maybe the amount of osmium in the meteorite was just too small to detect in bulk sediment, they reasoned.

They decided to look next at individual spherules found in the Melrose dirt. Spherules are tiny glass beads, ranging in size from microscopic to a quarter of an inch or so. They form when rock or soil is somehow melted and then quickly cooled.

Meteorite impacts can form spherules, but so do volcanoes, lightning, and blast furnaces. Distinguishing impact spherules from the other kinds isn't easy.

The shape of the Melrose spherules—some were sort of like teardrops—showed that they cooled and solidified as they flew through the air, Sharma said. Distinctive minerals, including flecks of pure iron, showed that they'd formed at temperatures greater than 2,000 degrees Celsius (around 3,600 degrees Fahrenheit), comparable to the hottest part of a blast furnace.

There have never been any blast furnaces near Melrose. "So that convinced us they formed from a meteorite impact," Sharma said.

When the researchers analyzed individual spherules, however, they once again couldn't find osmium from a meteorite. But they did find, in the ratios of osmium and neodymium isotopes, a chemical signature resembling that of 1.5-billion-year-old rocks from Quebec.

That led them to conclude that the fireball from a meteorite impact in Quebec had dropped tiny bits of glass on Melrose.

Other scientists question that conclusion. Bill Glass of the University of Delaware, who has authored a treatise on impact spherules, said they tend to be almost perfectly spherical or teardrop shaped, whereas the Melrose ones are more irregular.

"I don't believe the Melrose 'spherules' are impact spherules," he wrote in an e-mail. "My guess is they are some kind of contamination."

Jay Melosh, a planetary scientist at Purdue University who also studies impacts—he was an early proponent of the Cretaceous dinosaur-killing impact theory—is bothered more generally by the Dartmouth researchers' reasoning.

"A lot of it is, 'Well, we don't understand how this is happening—must be an impact,'" Melosh said. "That's reasoning I see a lot. It's almost always wrong. Impacts are among the most rare features on the surface of the Earth. You need strong positive tests to prove them. The Younger Dryas doesn't pass."

A Stronger Test?

Even if the Melrose spherules were formed by an impact, there's no way to know whether it happened at the beginning of the Younger Dryas; the dirt layers at the site have not been precisely dated.

That's not a problem faced by researchers who study Greenland ice cores, which provide a precise record of climate change during the last ice age. In those cores, the annual snow layers can be counted like tree rings back to the Younger Dryas and beyond.

To put the Younger Dryas impact hypothesis to a rigorous test, Michail Petaev, Shichun Huang, Stein Jacobsen, and Alan Zindler of Harvard decided to look for iridium in one of the ice cores from Greenland. Their results appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in July.  "We expected to find nothing," said Petaev.

And indeed they found next to no iridium.

But to the researchers' surprise, they found a pronounced spike in platinum that started exactly 12,900 years ago. Over the next 20 years or so the platinum concentration in the ice rose more than a hundredfold, then subsided again.

It's about the profile you'd expect, Petaev said, from dust settling out of the stratosphere after a meteorite impact, or perhaps a series of impacts.

Most meteorites contain about as much iridium as they do platinum. A rare kind called a magmatic iron meteorite, however, is platinum rich but iridium poor.

It's possible that a very small meteorite of that type happened to fall right on the part of Greenland that humans would extract an ice core from 12,900 years later. In other words, the platinum spike may be real, but it may be a coincidence that has nothing to do with mammoths or the Younger Dryas.

But it's also possible that there's a global platinum layer waiting to be discovered, like the iridium layer that proved there had been a Cretaceous impact.

To deposit as much platinum worldwide as it did on Greenland—around 30 parts per trillion—the meteorite would have had to be around half a mile across, the Harvard team calculates.

A rocky object that size would have left a substantial crater—but again, no Younger Dryas crater has been found. "I would bet on the event not being global," said Melosh.

The key test, though, will be whether the platinum spike turns up in Younger Dryas layers of Antarctic ice cores. Scientists are sure to be looking there soon.

Deus In or Ex Machina?

Opponents of the Younger Dryas impact hypothesis have raised all sorts of objections to it, besides the absence of a crater.

Perhaps the simplest is that there seems to be no need for such a deus ex machina to explain the drama that unfolded on Earth 13 millennia ago. Human hunting or climate change or both can explain the demise of mammoths and other Ice Age megafauna.

Internal lurches of Earth's climate machine suffice to explain the Younger Dryas itself—and besides, the ice-age climate record contains evidence of many other abrupt shifts similar to but earlier than the Younger Dryas. "You can't imagine every change had an extraterrestrial cause," Broecker said.

But the fact that an impact isn't needed at the Younger Dryas, or that some scientists may seem to want one too much, doesn't mean an impact didn't happen.

If an impact did happen at the Younger Dryas, it may just have amplified Earth's own internal sources of upheaval—extraterrestrial and terrestrial causes are not mutually exclusive. "The idea is that the system is drifting toward instability, but can't quite make it," Broecker said. "Then an impact comes along and it's like a knockout punch.

"But if it hadn't been for the impact, then the Younger Dryas would have just happened later,” he said. “It would have gone off by itself."

Researchers are only beginning, Broecker added, "to figure out what an impact did or didn't do. It's going to take a lot of people a lot of time."

27 comments
Minkus Johnson
Minkus Johnson

I have been following this theory for a while now and I have to wonder- is it possible we had a series of water carrying comets that not only caused havoc around the world- killing off 80% of all land life, but raising the ocean levels significantly. With the findings of the micro continents off Brazil and in the Indian ocean - both about the same depth of 5-6000 ft below- it becomes fascinating.

http://ns.umich.edu/new/releases/8593

The story above is from a few years back and the findings are exciting. The same water molecules that we have in our oceans are in the comet we took samples from.

Jeffrey Brooks
Jeffrey Brooks

Let us just say "impact of an extraterrestrial object," because if there was an impact that caused the Younger Dryas, then an asteroid could have done it.  I also agree with Herman Burchard, the impact zone might be masked by a volcano that could have been the result of a high energy impact, which could have been the Laacher See eruption, or there may have been other eruptions at that period.

Herman Burchard
Herman Burchard

``. . . absence of a crater''??  

Every YDB paper that I have seen, if the Laacher See eruption, simultaneous, dated to 12,920 BP (=1950) calibrated C14, is mentioned at all, the authors agonize about to dismiss it instead of embracing it as a case of impact volcanism, of which there can be little  doubt that it is.

ZEINEB MESSAOUDI
ZEINEB MESSAOUDI

On dit chez nous "croyances populaire" que quand un animal atteint une taille phénoménale ; Dieu envoi des chaines pour l' emporter. Je pense que c'est un genre de tu dépasse des normes tu dois être écarter. Et écarter pour ces gros animaux c'est un météorite ou un astéroide ou un super volcan. may be

John Ostrowick
John Ostrowick

Re-read the wikipedia page. There are several scientists and humanities academics that criticised him.

Robert Strahlendorf
Robert Strahlendorf

The only scientist who criticized Velikovsky was Carl Sagan. The criticism was over the physics of a collision or near miss with the earth and a comet. Carl Sagan never commented on the geological evidence that Velikovsky published. Sagan would have the same criticism of these recent scientists because they mentioned the possibility of a comet colliding with earth.

Robert Strahlendorf
Robert Strahlendorf

I have read many articles about this recent evidence of catastrophe 13 millennial ago. Astonishingly, there is no mention of Imanual Velikovsky. He had published much additional evidence supporting this theory. I am sure that this author is aware of Velikovsky. How could he ignore his contribution to this theory?  

Kenneth Terral
Kenneth Terral

And even more: 

(31) There is a lack of correlation between radiometric 'ages' and assumed palaeontological 'ages' A global flood could easily create an illusion of geologic 'ages'. The consequent conflict between dating methods confirms the illusion.

(32) Fossil 'graveyards' are found worldwide, and in rocks of all 'ages'. Only a catastrophic global flood could achieve this.

(33) The burial of fossil deposits worldwide had to have occurred in a catastrophic event. Only massive flooding could bury in such a fashion.

(34) Marine fossils can be found on the crests of mountains. Apart from mountain uplifting, this can also be explained as the marine animals being washed there and then buried. A global flood could do this.

(35) There is a worldwide distribution of most of the fossil types, indicating transportation on a global scale by a global flood.

(36) Fossils from different 'ages' are often found mixed. This indicates a huge mixing of animal bones that is not consistent with a local flood.

(37) Worldwide, fossils from different 'ages' are often found in the wrong order. This indicates a global mixing of fossils as a consequence of a global flood.

(38) Supposed evolutionary fossil sequences often parallel the ecological zonation that occurs today (Morris p:686). If a global flood mixed organisms from different areas, it would create the illusion of a fossil sequence over time.

(39) Dinosaurs and many other prehistoric creatures died out suddenly. A catastrophe such as a global flood could have produced this result.

(40) Polystrate fossils (viz. vertical fossil tree trunks) that are found worldwide indicate turbulent or rapid deposition. A global flood would be required to do this worldwide.

(41) Polystrate fossils also form when water-logged timber sinks in a large body of water. A year long global flood could produce worldwide polystrate fossils formed in this way.

(42) Animal tracks and other ephemeral markings (ripple-marks and raindrop imprints) have been preserved throughout the geological column. Rapid covering of these markings is required for this preservation worldwide - ie. by a global flood.

(43) Meteorites are basically absent from the geologic column. With the large number of meteorites hitting the earth each year, they should be very plentiful throughout the sedimentary rocks - unless much of the world's sedimentary rocks were laid down in one year.

(44) Sedimentary rocks contain fossil ripple-marks and raindrop imprints, but no hail imprints. A global flood (with associated rain), that was not caused by storms would not leave hail imprint marks.

(45) Some desert areas show evidence of 'recent' water bodies. Water from a recent global flood would remain in large pools (bodies of water) for some time before evaporating.

(46) There is evidence of a recent drastic rise in sea level. A global flood could easily have created this feature.

(47) Raised shorelines are found worldwide indicating a time when the world had a different sea level. A consistent interpretation of this is that a global flood altered the levels of the oceans and seas.

(48) Mountain-high water level marks found throughout the world are consistent with the recession of a global flood.

(49) River terraces are found worldwide. (Morris p:685)

(50) There is a universal occurrence of rivers in valleys too large for the present stream. Slow erosion over millions of years could not have created these valleys as the mountains would have eroded, keeping pace with the valley erosion. The drainage of global floodwaters from the land surface could easily create such wide valleys in a short period of time.

(51) Only modern sediments show any evidence of surface drainage systems. If the majority of the world's sedimentary rocks were laid down by a global flood there would not be any sign of drainage erosion except for the top layers eroded during the recession of the flood waters off the land.

(52) Hydrologic evidence points to the rapid deposition of sedimentary rock layers. Therefore, the thousand's of metres of sediment must have been deposited by a catastrophic global flood.

(53) Hydrologic evidence points to the world's sedimentary rocks being deposited in one continuous episode. All the layers could have been laid down by a single event, such as a global flood.

(54) Hydrologic experiments show that flowing sediment automatically settles out in distinct layers. Therefore, sedimentary rock layers can be just as easily explained as flood debris, as slow deposition.

(55) There is a worldwide occurrence of deep alluvial deposits and sedimentary rocks consistent with a huge global flood.

(56) There is a near-random deposition of formational sequences. (Morris p:685)

(57) Nowhere in the world is it possible to see the complete geologic column as a single structure. It is always found in bits and pieces, and mostly with pieces missing. Globally, a worldwide flood could create the illusion of a geologic column.

(58) The oldest organisms still alive on Earth today, the Californian Redwoods, Sequoias and Bristlecone Pines, are around 3,000-4,000 years old. Nothing is older that the date of Noah's flood.

Kenneth Terral
Kenneth Terral

More evidence of a global flood:

FROM SCIENCE

(13) There is a worldwide tradition among natives of a global flood.

(14) According to current archaeological evidence, civilization appears to have originated in the Ararat/Babylon region.

(15) The genealogical records of many of the European kings can be traced back to Japheth, son of Noah.

(16) An analysis of population growth statistics confirms that there was zero population at the estimated time of the end of the flood. This indicates the global demise of humans by Noah's flood.

(17) Human palaeontological evidence exists even in the earliest geologic 'ages' (eg human footprints in Cambrian, Carboniferous, and Cretaceous rocks). If the layers of rock were laid down by a global flood and then interpreted as evolutionary long-ages, human remains and artefacts would appear to be in such positions.

(18) The most ancient human artefacts date to the post-flood era. This indicates that the earlier hardware could have been buried beyond reach by a huge flood.

(19) Calculations have shown that there is nearly the same amount of organic material present today, worldwide, as there would have been if all the fossils were still alive (Morris p:685). This indicates the demise of all living things in a single global event.

(20) Palaeontological evidence indicates that the early earth had a warm/humid climate. This is consistent with the destruction of the old atmosphere by the processes of a global flood as described in Genesis.

(21) The glacial period started very quickly. This would require a cataclysmic event such as a global flood to trigger such a rapid climatic change.

(22) Similar geologic formations exist in rocks of all ages (eg rifts, folds, faults, thrusts, etc.). These can just as easily be explained as being created in the same cataclysmic global event.

(23) Studies show that much of the world's folded beds of sediment have no compression fractures, indicating that they were contorted while they were still wet and soft. For this to occur on a global scale, and on sediment thousands of metres thick, it would have required a catastrophic global flood.

(24) Rocks of different geologic 'ages' have similar physical features indicating that they could have been created by a single worldwide event - such as a global flood.

(25) There is an absence of physical evidence that indicates a time change between rocks of 'successive ages'. Sedimentary rock layers worldwide appear to have been laid down very quickly, as by a global flood.

(26) Globally, there is an almost complete absence of any evidence of animal and plant root activity within the tiny layers of sediment. Slowly deposited layers should show this activity, flood deposits wouldn't.

(27) All types of rocks (eg limestone, shale, granite, etc) occur in all geologic 'ages'. This indicates a common formation on a global scale - the situation that would have been created by the mixing of sediment in a global flood.

(28) Many geological processes have a recent geological date. If the long-age evolutionary time scale is ignored, these processes would have occurred in the very recent past - ie. as a result of the flood cataclysm.

(29) Recent volcanic rocks are distributed widely. (see last point above)

(30) The uplift of the major mountain ranges are relatively young, based on evolutionary chronology. If the long-age evolutionary time scale is ignored, these processes would have occurred in the very recent past - ie as a result of the flood cataclysm.

Kenneth Terral
Kenneth Terral

Ever consider that they all died from a global flood? 

Here are over 100 evidences in support of a global flood, rather than a local one.

 FROM LOGIC.........[12 reasons]

(1) For rain to fall for forty uninterrupted days on one localized area is currently close to impossible.

(2) A rainbow appeared for the first time after the flood, indicating a radical change in atmospheric conditions as a consequence of a cataclysmic event.

(3) The waters remained for over a year. This would not occur in a local flood.

(4) To be higher than the highest mountains, the flood could not have been local.

(5) To cover the mountains continually for 9 months, the flood could not have been local.

(6) The purpose of the flood was to destroy all human beings. This could only refer to a worldwide flood.

(7) If the flood was local, people living elsewhere in the world would have escaped.

(8) The enormous size of the ark (equivalent to the capacity of 500 railroad freight carriages) would hold much more than local species of animals.

(9) The purpose of the ark to "keep seed [species - NKJ] alive upon the face of the earth" is only rational if the flood was global.

(10) Noah and his family could have migrated to a locality away from the local area to be flooded. There would have been no need to spend 120 years building an ark.

(11) Many of the animals in the flooding area could have easily migrated to escape the deluge if the flood was local. There would have been no need to build an ark to provide them with a safe haven.

(12) If God made a promise based on a lie (ie. that the flood being local rather than global), then he can't be trusted to save us from our sins.

Bruce Peterson
Bruce Peterson

@Robert Strahlendorf There is so very much wrong with Velikovsky's theories that it is impossible for a scientifically aware person to take him seriously.

Minkus Johnson
Minkus Johnson

@Kenneth Terral I am a believer in a flood type event simply because so many ancient cultures from around the world have legends of one.

I also am very much open that water carrying comets brought most if not all of our water on our planet and it may have done so through earth's history.

What I do not get, is the worshiping of texts written by other men to the point that it is taken so literally.

Christ said test all things. There was no Bible when he was alive and the whole forming of the Bible was decided by other men in political and high positions.

So I test everything- even the Bible.

The biggest failing of my religion has been the same great evil all religions bring if we are not careful- pride.

We are all brothers and sister, so God did not pick just us to speak to and He does not just use the King James version either.

R Cox
R Cox

@Kenneth Terral  I've had this debate with conservative Christians before and the usual compromise is "Don't take the figurative stories in the Bible as a literal interpretation of history".

It's easy to take all the information that agrees with a point of view and ignore the conflicting information. Essentially that is what I'm seeing with your interpretation. But I'm pretty sure this debate has been going on for at least the last 250 years and will just vaguely gesture in the direction of "The rational wiki".

Peter Ateo
Peter Ateo

@Kenneth Terral

God? [sigh] When will people outgrow all this mystical, religious hoo ha?
 
Nearly 6,000 religions (no exaggeration) have been invented by the mind of mankind, purporting nearly 2,500 different Gods, Goddesses, demons and spirits. With such a tremendous track record of creating our own 'creators', WHY do people keep clinging to the last three or four of these delusional manifestations as if they are unaware of our propensity to INVENT one God after another after another after another after another after another after another after another after another... (repeat another 5,991 times or so)?

It's SO obvious, yet so many people fall prey to the foolishness of faith without evidence. Being infected with the virus of faith at a young age seems to be the sole key to the meme's survival. Adults rarely become infected if the religious mysticism meme was not originally 'injected' at an early age, to fester dormant like shingles until awakened by a 'vision' (drugs, alcohol, brain-seizure hallucination) of someone's supernatural invisible friend, or some equivalent mistaken event.

Here is a very abbreviated list of some of the other Gods people used to believe in:
http://ancienthistory.about.com/library/bl/bl_myth_gods_index.htm


 

gILSR T.
gILSR T.

@Kenneth Terral  Obviously you have given this much thought. A couple of questions.

 A global flood in the world today would require a great amount of water. An alternative would be a very smooth world with only a small amount of mountains like Ararat. Which do you prefer? After all, water is not easily produced unless you say God created it for the flood and then took it away.

Then, I don't understand how some of the evidence for the flood could be produced. Picture a heavy rain that continues day after day, even after all the water vapor is removed from the atmosphere. The creeks will flood, feeding the rivers, causing the oceans to rise. But I don't see the creation of the great valleys or any great disruptions, assuming there are continents. (See the first question.) Ater all it is a GLOBAL flood.  The water all over the world is rising at the same time.

Lastly, it si said that a large meteorite hit around where the Yucatan peninsula is now. There are holes in the limestone that form a circular ring. It is said that these holes were caused by the meteorite causing cracks in the limestone and then over thousands of years these cenotes were formed by rain desolving the limestone.  So, how long did it take to form this limestone? It is hundreds of feet thick and is obviously created from the plants and animals that lived and deposited there skeletonal material. It seems over a long time. Thousands of years it seems. Maybe it was a low spot and all the all the material from all over the world settled here. But there are limestone deposits all over the world. 

M. Waters
M. Waters

@Hazel Gillett How so? Please site some examples.

Minkus Johnson
Minkus Johnson

@Peter Ateo @Kenneth Terral I see your point and it saddens me that so many who claim to speak for God have made seeking out the Truth a secondary goal when it comes to confirming ancient texts.

My beliefs in a higher Power come from my own experiences and very little from those who raised me or preachers.

It is a sham that so many religious leaders are so full of pride and ego about their beliefs.

If it is not about love, then it is not from my God.

Sonia Wilson
Sonia Wilson

@Peter Ateo @Kenneth Terral 

Not all parents indoctrinated their young children to believe in god. My husband and I made sure not to do that  to our two kids but one of them turned out to be religious by the age of 13. Christian faith and "god" was important to her and she became very devout. 

Unknown to her at the time, a generation before, my mom, her grandmother, had entered a convent and became a Jesuit novice. My mom eventually decided to not take her final vows in lieu of a family of her own. Could this kind of religious passion be genetic?  Or could it just be attributed to how each individual's brain works?

 As for my daughter, she turned her back on the church eventually, because she couldn't stand with the Christian’s view of homosexuality as being a "sin" since we didn't raise her that way. She still believes in god, though. I think that some people are just hard wired to believe in a god or follow religion because that's how their brains are wired.  Or maybe it's in their DNA?  Perhaps someday we'll figure it out. 

James George
James George

@gILSR T. @Kenneth Terral

Actually, he cut and pasted the list from a creationist source.  Here's a better one:

(1) If all (or even most) of the geologic column were laid down by a global flood, we would expect these to be marine sediments.  This is not what we actually observe (see item 2, below).  

(2) We have large-scale (and fully intact) desert and forest environments that could not have been transplanted or deposited by a global flood.  These occur BETWEEN sediments that were supposedly deposited by the flood, which is impossible given the crustal folding that even he acknowledges.  Nor can they possibly represent pre or post-flood conditions given their placement.

(3) The above sediments contain fossils inconsistent with the supposed timeline he suggests.

(4) Furthermore, we NEVER find dinosaurs with humans or rabbits in the Precambrian.  The closest we come are the so-called Paluxy "man-tracks" in Cretaceous sediments that have since been identified as eroded dinosaur footprints.  Even most creationists don't use this anymore.

(5) River valleys are carved in part because of differential rates of erosion between the water below and the air (wind) above.  This, alone, suggests these features were NOT the result of some global event.  The size of rivers changes over time, something we observe today, and it readily explains what we actually see.  

(6)  Local flooding DOES happen.  A LOT.  In the past 10 years alone, we're had a many such events, all with wide-reaching consequences.  

(7) The fossils captured in the various flood events are not consistent with each other or the timeline creationists accept, making it clear they occurred locally and at different times.  Given that local flood events DO happen, this is not at all difficult to understand.

(8) Any source of water sufficient to cover mountains in a mere 40 days (a vapor canopy, etc.) would either release enough heat to poach Noah and his ark or raise oxygen and nitrogen to toxic levels.  In fact, a rapid global flood would have done more than just cover the earth, it would have rendered it inhospitable.   

(9) Evolutionary assumptions about how the Earth formed help us to locate oil and other precious minerals (not to mention natural gas).  The fact that this works validates them.  Creationists ideas simply cannot be applied in a similar manner.       

(10) Creationists don't give a damn about what you know (or don't) about science or any other field of study.  It's all about propping up a literal interpretation of their religious texts.  

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